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BURNET, Thomas.

Archaeologiae Philosophicae:

sive Doctrina antiqua de Rerum Originibus.

Published: London: printed by R.N. for Walter Kettilby, 1692

Stock code: 110054

Price: £1,750

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First edition of one of the primary works of the natural philosopher and headmaster Thomas Burnet (c.1635-1715), in which he attempted “to demonstrate that his theory of the earth was also compatible with what could be known of ancient accounts of creation” (ODNB). “Burnet’s stunning theory of earth formation was an attempt to twist the arm of the Bible’s creation story until it submitted to scientific knowledge. That story’s pivotal event, the great deluge, played a central role in Burnet’s theory since it completely changed the face of the earth and turned a perfectly smooth spherical paradise into the ‘fallen’ earth as we know it” (Urs App, The Cult of Emptiness: The Western Discovery of Buddhist Thought and the Invention of Oriental Philosophy, 2012, chapter 15). However, the book caused a storm of controversy in Britain and on the continent and it marked the end of Burnet’s career as a public author; he even “instructed its publisher, Walter Kettilby, not to reprint, abridge, or translate the book” (ODNB).

Small quarto (200 x 155 mm). Contemporary mottled calf (joints skilfully repaired), sides with two-line rules, red speckled edges. Small engraving in the text at p. 181. Endleaves ruled in red and with a few contemporary notes in Latin, Greek and Hebrew (also a few marginal annotations). A few short marginal tears and some leaves dog-eared, small wormhole through lower blank margin of gatherings K and L. An attractive copy.

Bibliography: Wing B5943.

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